The Happiness Lottery

The Journey to HappinessTalk to any ten people and they may have a different view on what happiness means.  Some need lots of money and lots of stuff to be happy while others tend to be happier when life is simple and they value the things that matter most.  Neither one of the view points is wrong, they are just different.  In our case we tend to focus on those things that matter the most to use and view money as that tool that allows us the opportunity to do the things that make us happy.  We determined that enough is good enough.
We are not gamblers when it comes to pretty much anything.  I like to go to the casino every now and again and play, but it is strictly for entertainment, I don’t count on winning at the casino to pay bills and put food on the table.  The same is with our lives, we don’t gamble when it comes to the tings that make us happy.  We look to the sure thing.  Playing the Happiness Lotto is not a way that we like to play the game of life.  Now that is not to say that we don’t take some risks, it is just that we try to mitigate the negative outcomes as much as we can.  You can’t eliminate it all so that is where staying the course on our plans come in.  Being disciplined in how we use our resources and treat the people and things in our lives.  We don’t play the Happiness Lottery.
We try not to worry about the little stuff, we plan for how we are going to live, and we stick to the plan.  Spinning the wheel and hoping never leads to happiness.  When I was in Iraq we used to say that Hope is not a plan.  We can hope things are going to go our way but unless you do something to make it happen, it won’t.  So it is with Happiness.  You need to make it happen!  And we do.
Life is Good Today!

Be Happy.

Tumalo State Park

tumalo state parkAs we prepare the RV for another weekend get a way We want to share with you our last trip to Tumalo State Park.  A gem of a State Park in Central Oregon between Bend and Redmond.  It’s about a 3 hour drive from our home, but worth every mile and minute.  This is one of our favorite places to camp.  There is so much to do and see in the area that you could spend a week and have a great time every day.
The campground sits right along the Deschutes river which offers great kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, and rafting opportunities.  The fishing is world famous along the Deschutes and something that you should try while your there.
If you are into hiking, the network of trails in and around the park are outstanding and great hikes are all within 15 minutes of your RV.
And then there is Bend and Redmond.  Two really cool cities that are wonderful to visit.  Brewery’s and nice shops make the day in either Bend or Redmond something worth the drive.
If you are ever in Central Oregon, pay a visit to the Tumalo State Park.. you will be glad you did.

Pre Trip- Getting on the Road

instance-management-tool-checklistAs seen in our last post, we are fans of planning and creating lists.  When we get ready for an outing we have a set routine so we do not forget anything, and yes this is a great lessons learned thing.  We didn’t always have “the list” and yep.. forgot things and missed things.  In the end it always costs money.  Forgetting things results in those last minute trips to Walmart or an RV store at a remote location which will always cost you more.  Shopping at a camp store will too.  Not to say that the convenience of a camp store is not nice, but they do have you when you get to the check out as they are the only game in town.
So we created a list to help us get on the road.  It is a simple checklist that is unique to us and how we get started.  It always comes down to the little things with us so checking and double checking is the rule.
We start with the inside.
Clothing, Food, and making sure that every cabinet is closed and secured.
We check for obstructions to the slide out to make sure that when we get to our site we can open the slide out without any issues.  We know that things shift and move during travel, so making sure that nothing is going to fall in the way of the slide out is important.  It can be as simple as a Dog bone that can derail the slide.
We check the bathroom to make sure the shower door is closed and secure.  This can become a big problem if it breaks.
Then we secure any loose items in the galley and give the inside a once over before we go outside.
Outside (after we hook up) we do a walk around.
We make sure the slide out is all the way in.
We check the outside storage cabinets and ensure they are closed and locked.
We check to make sure all the windows are closed and secure.
We check the rear bumper to make sure the spare tire is secure and the hoses and covers are not loose.
We check the stairs to make sure they are secure and in place.
We make sure the doors are locked.
We check the awning to make sure it is fully retracted.
We look to see if anything is hanging or not in place.  A good visual inspection will let you know if anything looks out of place.
Check the tires, lug nuts and tire pressure.
Make sure chokes are pulled.
This brings us back to the front of the trailer.
We check the tongue lock.
Make sure all the pins are in place.
Make sure the sway control is set.
Check the safety chains and emergency brake cable.
Make sure propane is off and bottle are secure.
Check the cable for lights and brakes.
Propane tank cover on and top door secure.
A visual inspection of the lights to make sure running lights, turn signals, and brake lights are functioning properly.
Inside the truck we check dash to make sure trailer is hooked up and reading.
Test brake output on dash indicator.
Lights on.
Tow/Haul set.
Mirrors.
A thumbs up from Teresa.. and we go.
This list does not change much.. we try to be consistent that way we tend not to forget anything. I am sure that the list could be longer and more detailed, but it does seem to work for us.
What do you use to get on the road, a list, an app, or just wing it?
Let us know.

Have a Happy Day!

Time and Space

In a recent video I watched from a great couple that I follow there was a discussion on how far or how long are you comfortable driving when traveling with your RV.
I thought this was not only a timely subject as we are planning our big cross country adventure, but it was a discussion that we have had repeatedly.
The video got me looking into our plan for June and as a result we actually added a day to the trip to accommodate our limitations on how far and long we like to be in the truck pulling the trailer.
I am typically ok within a five hour circle from home.  What ever that distance is, typically about 400 miles, we are comfortable with traveling.  It does require a stop or two to stretch our legs and take a bio break.  The nice thing about having the RV is that you bring your comfort station with you.  Bathroom, kitchen etc. is all just a rest stop or view point away.  I can stretch that to ten hours if we need to, and we will on our trip, but those days need to be spread out and have a great destination when we arrive.
One of the other things that we consider when planning is our arrival times.  Whether that has to do with check in times for camping near us or the time and distance that we travel, arrival times is a factor.  If we want to arrive and be able to see some sights we need to get into our camp site before 3:30 PM.  So that is what we usually plan around.  Again, when planning for our June trip and knowing that we are only staying in most places for one night, if we want to see anything we need to be in by 3:30.  So we back out our distance and the time it take to cover it and come up with our departure times so as to arrive by 3:30.

Screen Shot 2019-04-11 at 7.57.39 AMLike I said based on the time and distance and looking at how much I am comfortable with we added a day.  The spreadsheet above is the tool I use to plan.  It does not reflect the added day which will be at the beginning of the trip on the 16th.  That will cut the 10:45 drive in half and that way I won’t have to do two back to back long days.  We also through in a floater day (30th) the grey block that will allow us to either go home for a night in the way to LL Stubb Stewart or spend another day en route from Butte.
Without taking a look at the plan we would not know to make changes.  I know that some people don’t plan as much, but I like to know what I am getting myself into.  I also like to know that it’s doable.  On this trip we have not allowed for too much flexibility, but that is because we have places and people that we need to see and get to.  The fact of the matter is that we do have a few days in the middle that we can shift, move, or do nothing with.
Planning for us is key.  When we look at space and time, we want to fill it with how we are comfortable and keep it safe for our travel.  Its all about having fun and so we feel the need to plan to make it that way.
What are you comfortable with?  How do you plan? Let us know.
Be sure to check out one of our favorite YouTube Channels, You,Me, and The RV!
While you are it.. pay a visit to our channel!
Have a Happy Day!

The DIY Option

DIY-bandeau-1This week we added another upgrade to our Keystone Passport Travel Trailer.  We seem to be in a mode of upgrading some of the little things and some that may seem a bit larger.  As discussed in a previous post I understand why the manufacturers tend to go with “cheaper options” when constructing an RV, it all comes down to cost and time.. so be it.  In talking with a Keystone rep at the last RV show he gave us the “insider scoop” that if you want everything perfect you need to go to the factory and get it made that way.  Well for most of us that is not an option and when it comes to cost I think doing the little upgrades a few at a time will ultimately save you money in the long run.  Besides, being new to RVing I really didn’t know what I wanted until about a year in the RV and seeing other trailers.  So it really is trial and error for a while and then you fall into the get what you want mode.
For us every upgrade we make now is a plus.  The RV is paid off so all the cost now is added value to us and it makes the trailer more suitable to how we use it and meets our needs.  The thing that we have learned in this process is just how much you can do yourself.  Now there are things that I won’t do like drill holes in the side of my rig to install a Slider Topper.. nope.. way out of my wheel house.  But I am finding that many things can be done by myself and at a tremendous cost savings.  The case in point, and it cost me too much for this lesson, is this weeks upgrade.  We had installed (there’s the mistake) a set of Morryde Step Above steps.   We saw them at the RV show and immediately knew we needed them on our trailer.  They replace the existing fold out steps on the rig.  I spoke with the Rep from MorRyde at the show and demo’d the steps and some of the other MorRyde products.  They are fantastic, solid, super stable steps and they are great on the trailer.  I took the brochure home and did all the measuring to find the set we needed to fit our rig and went to Camping World to buy them.  They are running a $59 “We install anything” deal right now…. which is not entirely true after you pay for the parts and labor.. not to mention the item itself.  But I had them install it and came to find out one of my doors is smaller than the other and so only one set could installed.  MorRyde does not make the small door option yet.. I sure hope it’s coming.  The install took a few hours, I’m sure it is because they are installing a ton of stuff with the $59 deal, but what it amounted to was putting the stairs in and mounting them with 6 screws.  Six screws that are easily accessible.  After looking at what took Camping World 2 hours to do I kicked myself in the rear for spending the money on the install.  I could have done it in 10 minutes.  Had I ordered the steps on Amazon

6Exm0vKKTYe50TdyCU7OIgand had them shipped to my house I could have saved about $200 in shipping, labor, and install fees.  Lesson learned, look into the DIY options before you buy.
I have done a lot of little improvements to the RV.  Today I installed a pole in the closet.  We converted our bedroom closets using inexpensive drawers we found at Target so we needed to make the lined closet usable to hang jackets and shirts that need to be hung on hangers.  Took me 5 minutes and it’s done the way I wanted it.  The point is that I am learning to do it myself.  As we take our trailer out more and more and see what upgrades or manufactures are doing with the newer trailers we see things that we like and want.  From now on we will be always be looking at how we can do it ourselves before we jump to the install.  Now if it is stuff that I just not comfortable with then paying for piece of mind is always worth the cost.
So here is a list of the what we have upgraded or changed in our Keystone Passport to date:
New Mattress on bed
Installed cup holders around dinette
Bedroom closet drawers
Hall closet hanger
MorRyde steps
Slide topper
Replaced Door windows with Thin Shade windows
Replaced curtain stays as they have been breaking with zip ties
Replaced Scissor Stabilizers with Eaz Lift stabilizers
Vent Covers on the two vents on roof
Added antenna booster to TV
Lost of Command Hooks around to hang things
Tongue Jack replaced
Kitchen sink faucet replaced
Bathroom sink faucet replaced
Shower head replaced
Started changing our light bulbs inside to LED bulbs
Seat Cushions in Dinette replaced
I’m sure I am forgetting something here, but we are making the RV the best for us and we love it!
What are some of the upgrades that you have done on your rig?  We would love to know heck maybe it will inspire us to do more upgrading.
Let us know!
Have a Happy Day!

Road Trip – Play List

fullsizeoutput_358The sun is finally out and the buzz is all about getting outside, de winterizing the RV (if you do that) and the hitting the campground! But you can’t hit the road until the cooler is packed and the play list is loaded!  You have to have your tunes to get the camping started… right?
We have a very eclectic taste in our music, everything from Rock to Country… ahh sorry for those that like Hip Hop.. but that’s not part of our music taste.  But pretty much everything else is loaded and ready to play.
When we travel, we like to listen to local radio too.  It gives you a feel for the community, updates on traffic, and events that we want to check out.  But we all have those dead spots on the road.  Between the Portland Metro area and the Oregon Coast for example there is no radio so having a good play list ready to go helps pass time and keep you entertained along the way.
We like many use iTunes and have a subscription (not a paid endorsement).  We like it because there is everything there.  We download lots of music and a nice feature is you can download entire playlists that are full of hits.
We like to sing along, although neither one of us sing well.. we sing loud and have fun with it!  The pups even like a few songs and when they hear “Chicken Fried” they know it camping time!  It’s the song most likely to lead off the trip.
So what’s in your iTunes library?  What do you jam out to when you hit the road?
Here are a few of our favorites.
Kenny Chesney – Pretty much all of his stuff
The Zac Brown Band – We have a couple of their albums loaded.. yep starting with Chicken Fried.  And Toes is one of Teresa’s favs!Of course AC/DC, Journey, and George Straite make the Top 10.  Darius Rucker has made it into the list, since he left Hooty we actually like him.  No playlist would be complete without Chicago’s Best.  Rockin’ out to Boston is always there and then over to Oingo Boingo to keep us jammin’ on the road.  Hey I told you we listen to everything.  Country music is probably the most listened to though.. we do love our Alan Jackson and Billy Currington.
Ok.. I think you get the idea of what is on our playlist and downloads for great road trips.
So what is on your list?  What do you need to have playing for your perfect road trip.  Music is such a great part of our lives and yep.. keeps us happy!
Please share with us.. I may want to add some to our list..  And yes, the picture for this post is a screen shot of my iTunes.
Have a Happy Day!

Window Up Grade! AP Products Thin Shade

11080005This week we upgraded the door windows of our Passport.  We went with the AP Products Thin Shade.
We went with these windows for a couple of reasons.  First, we love the shade that is built into the window.  The older windows allowed for privacy, but the look was just not what we liked.  The old windows looked like the glass that you find in a restroom.
Second, we love that the new windows match the smoked glass look of all of the rest of the windows on the trailer.  It makes the look of the RV much nicer and the door side now has a matched texture of the glass, it just seems to flow better.
Finally, the price was right.  We got an incredible deal on the set of windows.  We stopped by camping world.  The windows were on sale from $133 a piece to $119.  Then we got to the register we discovered thanks to the associate that there was another price marking on the box.  She told us that she had to charge us whatever the price is on the box.. so we got both windows for $180.
The project took only 20 minutes to install both of the windows, the hardest part was taking the old windows out.  Once I got them out and cleaned up the door the new install was quick and easy.
It says that the windows fit most RV’s.. they fit in our doors like fingers in a glove.  Perfect fit and great look.  Looks like they came installed from the factory… which begs the question… no it actually doesn’t.. I understand why the factory does not do the cool upgrades and I appreciate that.  The money spent later is well worth it because then you have the ability to customize your rig.
So another nice upgrade to the RV.  Glad we got it done.
Heres a video that gives you an idea of the project.
Have a Happy Day!

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Planning the big trip

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First leg of the Big Trip!

We have been planning a big RV trip for this summer for some time and this past weekend the plan finally came together.
The plan was originally to go out to LeesSummit, MO to visit my wives sister and brother in law and return.  Then we decided that while we had to pass through some great country to get there, we would stop and see some sights.  So the plan started to take shape.
We will be departing the Monday after school lets out for the summer, Teresa is still working at the school so we can take off as soon as the last bell rings.  The trip will end in mid July.  This will be the longest trip we have ever taken together and the biggest trip in the RV.  It will take us 4682 miles round trip from Troutdale to Lees Summit, up to South Bend and over to Chicago then the trip West through South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington and then out to the Oregon Coast.
We have made all our reservations to camp along the way.  We were surprised to find just how inexpensive the trip is going to be.  As we looked into RV campgrounds along the way we wanted to make sure that we were staying in nice, safe, and around the path that we are heading.  Looking into the camping we used the Good Sam Club trip planning web site.  It is a great tool for planning your trip, unfortunately they are shutting it down in April.  The thing that we liked about the planner, and I am sure that there are others like it, is that you put in your destination and it shows you the route, gives campground suggestions, and allows you to filter to meet your needs.  What we found was that using the filters for campgrounds that have a good rating and met our needs of staying on route and around attractions that we wanted to see, the KOA camps kept moving to the Header-KOA-Logotop of the list.  So we purchased a KOA membership for the year.  It only cost $30 and we got one of our nights along the way free plus discounts at each site we are staying at. Over the past three years we have become masters of the discounts.  Using Military discounts where we can, Good Sam discounts, and other deals that we find, we have kept our camping costs as low as we can.  The KOA option may not be the best but looking at the web sites we concluded that they are all pretty well regulated and at least have a standard that has to be met to maintain the KOA franchises.  This means that for most of our one night stays we will be in campgrounds that are safe, clean, and offer the amenities that we need along the way.  Pretty much hook ups and a place to stay.  The cost was not bad either.  The most expensive night we have on the whole trip is only $56 a night.  Still cheaper than any hotel and I get to sleep in my own bed.
The second part of the plan is that we are going to do a daily VLog on our YouTube Channel of the Trip.  I am not certain as to the logistics and rhythm of a daily Vlog, editing, posting, etc.  But we thought it would be fun to share the journey.   The good, the bad, and the ugly of travel costs, places we stay and visit, and of course a month in the RV.  Stay tuned for that.
We look forward to hitting the Road on this great adventure.  June can’t come soon enough!

Have a Happy Day!

Maryhill

This last weekend.. which is why we missed the blog on Friday we took a trip to the other side of the Columbia River Gorge to Maryhill State Park in Washington.
Maryhill and Maryhill State Park sits right at the mouth of the Columbia River Gorge’s East side.  For those heading East across Northern Oregon and Southern Washington this moves you from the Willamette Valley into the high desert of Eastern Oregon and Washington.  The Gorge is amazing rock formations that were cut as the Columbia River was formed.  It is.. pardon the pun Gorgeous.
So last Thursday we loaded up the RV and headed East.  We arrived at Maryhill State Park in the mid afternoon, it is a one and a half hour drive, and discovered that the park was empty and covered in snow.  The check in station was closed but a sign directed us to do self check.  Since we had reservations, we just drove in to find our site.  When we got to our site, a pull through site looking out at the river we found that we could not get in there.  The park had plowed the snow but created snow banks that I just could not maneuver our 33 foot trailer and truck through.
So removing the urgency from the situation I saw a Park Rangers truck at the office and drove over there.  I explained the situation to him and he offered a group camp site to us.  Since we were the only ones in the park and the only reservation for the weekend he said we could go pretty much wherever we wanted.  He drove us over to the group site which had hook ups and a ton of space and we set up there and waited to the rest of our camping party to arrive.
This weekend was all about learning and playing with the Canon M50 camera that we have recently upgraded to.  When we first got it I followed some advice from the internet… yeah go figure…  and messed up the settings.  So I did basically a factory reset.. took a legitimate tutorial on the camera and the results I think are fantastic.  I thought I’d share some of the pictures we took here on the blog.
If you ever get out to Maryhill be sure to visit the Maryhill winery, they have some amazing wine and the testing bar is fun and you learn a lot.  Also you need to check out the Maryhill Stonehenge.  It is really neat and gives you a great view of the Columbia River Gorge.
Let me know what you think of the pictures.

How low will you go?

pcod5AE5iIt’s a balmy 32 degrees outside as I sit and click at the keyboard.  We have a reservation at the Mary Hill State Park tomorrow and the forecast is for cold.. real cold temps.  So the question is… How low will you go?
We have taken the RV out in some pretty nasty weather and cold temperatures, and yes we always have a great time.  But there may come a point where the temps are too low or the weather is too nasty that we will need to make that decision or determine just how low we will go.
Thank goodness we never have Minnesota temperatures and the weather tends to come and go here in Oregon, so most of the year is camping season.  Last January we camped around the Bend, Oregon area at a beautiful state park.  It was extremely cold and icy, but at least it was dry.  The Trailer handled it well, we have the four season package on ours so it is insulated well and the pipes are all covered so I have never really worried about freezing pipes or systems on the rig… not since the water heater broke.
Since we are not full time RVers, we do have the luxury of saying enough is enough and just going home if we need to.  But we tend to like to push it a bit.  As long as we can pull the trailer safely, we will go.
This weekend is going to be a test of that I think.  My only concern is pulling through the Columbia River Gorge.  It gets pretty icy out there so we will have to see how it goes.  Like I said, turning around is always an option, but we need see.  I am pretty sure that once we get out there and get set up its going to be fantastic.
As long as the heater works, propane is full, and we have a great view, the weekend will be fun.
wintercampingSo the question is… How low will you go?
Leave us a comment and let us know.
Thanks for hanging out with us.
Have a Happy Day!